World View: Israeli Remarks on John Kerry Grow into International Incident

This morning's key headlines from
  • Le scandale du jour: Who is France's 'First Lady' now?
  • Israeli remarks about Kerry grow into international incident
  • White House confirms, then denies, a secret Iran agreement
  • Egypt to side with the Palestinian Authority / Fatah against Hamas

Le scandale du jour: Who is France's 'First Lady' now?

At a press conference Tuesday, France's president Francois Hollande refused to "clarify" who his current girlfriend is, just a few weeks before he and his partner are expected to make a state visit to the United States on February 11. 

Hollande lives in the Elysee palace with his girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler, who is considered the de facto "first lady" of France and is expected to play that role in state visits. However, Hollande has been spending nights with a new girlfriend, actress Julie Gayet, amid rumors that Trierweiler is going to have to find a new place to live. 

When the affair became public on Friday, Trierweiler checked into the hospital with a "severe case of the blues." Her aides say that her stay is being extended because "doctors believe she needs more rest."

When asked at Tuesday's press conference to clarify his relationship with Trierweiler, Hollande said:

I understand your question. And I am sure you will understand my answer. Everyone can go through hardships. That is the case. But I have one principle. Private affairs are dealt with in private, with due respect to all parties. Therefore this is not the place to go into this.

He added that Trierweiler was "resting," and that he would clarify the situation before the February 11 trip to the U.S.

The news of women trouble in France is inspiring the revival of some previous rumors that Michelle Obama is fed up with her husband and plans to divorce him. Voice of Russia speculates that they "sleep in separate bedrooms," and points out that her husband returned home alone from the family vacation in Hawaii. Telegraph (London) and Voice of Russia

Israeli remarks about Kerry grow into international incident

Washington is expressing outrage at comments by Israel's defense minister calling U.S. Secretary of State obsessive and messianic.

Defense minister Moshe Ya'alon is quoted as saying in private meetings:

Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is alive and well thanks to us. The moment we leave [the West Bank] he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.

The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on. It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in [the West Bank] and the River Jordan will ensure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don't become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.

U.S. State Department spokesman Marie Harf shot back:

If these comments are accurate, we find the remarks of the defense minister to be offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States has done to support Israel's security needs and will continue to do. Secretary Kerry and his team, including Gen. [John] Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the secretary's deep concern for Israel's future.

Late news is that Ya'alon's office has issued an apology.

It's hard to know what to make of this situation. Kerry and the Obama administration have been stumbling from one foreign policy debacle to another for months. The Syria "red line" debacle and the Afghanistan "peace process" debacle come most readily to mind, but there are others. The Mideast "peace plan" that Kerry is "obsessively" pushing is almost farcical in its naïveté, which is the kind of thing that Ya'alon was saying.

I constantly complain that politicians frequently lie and say really dumb and dishonest things. Now you can see why. Any politician who doesn't follow the party line, even if it's utter nonsense, risks an international incident. The ideal politician is a stupid crook, and we have many that meet that ideal. YNet and CNN

White House confirms, then denies, a secret Iran agreement

Iran disclosed on Monday that there's a 30-page side agreement that's a secret part of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West. The secret deal has not been released. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the agreement would be released to Congress. However, a State Dept. spokesman later denied that there was a secret agreement.

Carney also commented on on a tweet by Iran's president Hassan Rouhani:

Our relationship w/ the world is based on Iranian nation's interests. In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation's will. — Tweet: Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 14, 2014

According to Carney, "It matters what they do, not what they say." Apparently that bit of wisdom doesn't apply to remarks made in private by Ya'alon in Israel. LA Times and Weekly Standard

Egypt to side with the Palestinian Authority / Fatah against Hamas

A bombing caused no casualties, but at least nine people in Egypt died Tuesday in violence related to a referendum on a new constitution, with clashes reported in several provinces. The new constitution forbids parties "formed on the basis of religion, gender, race or geography."

The new constitution is targeting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was the governing party for a year before the army ousted Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in a coup. The referendum is likely to win approval, since the Brotherhood has announced that it will boycott the vote.

The army has already declared the Brotherhood to be a "terrorist organization," and now the army is going further by attempting to eradicate Hamas, the governing authority of Gaza. Hamas was originally formed in the early 1980s as an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt's army has accused Hamas not only of supporting the Brotherhood in Egypt, but also of being behind several bloody terrorist attacks in Egypt, which Hamas has denied.

Hamas is increasingly cooperating with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, the governing authority in the West Bank. Hamas and Fatah have been split since the war between them in Gaza in 2008, which forced Fatah to withdraw from Gaza completely. Egypt and Fatah are hosting anti-Hamas activists. According to one Fatah official in Cairo:

We support the movement and any peaceful movement against the cruelty of the Islamist group that is part of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization.

Al Ahram (Cairo) and Reuters

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